Theo Riddick is the Lions’ Best Running Back
Yes, I said it. I truly believe that Theo Riddick is the best player the Lions currently have in the backfield. Last week’s matchup against the Atlanta Falcons only strengthened this belief.
Slap the Sign
Riddick played a huge role in last week’s victory over the Falcons. On 12 targets he caught 8 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Three of those catches came in the final two drives of the game, all of which were crucial leading to Detroit’s fourth quarter comeback.
His first catch of the fourth quarter came on a simple out route with the Lions in 00 personnel (0 RB, 0 TE, 5 WR). It was a simple routine catch for six yards, but it’s a play that Stafford and Bush haven’t been connecting on all year. Riddick is a much shiftier back that can create separation easily with his lightning quick cuts.
NFL Game Rewind
With the Lions trailing 21-13 late in the game with just four minutes remaining, the Lions had a chance to score on 2nd and goal at Atlanta’s 5-yard line. They’re lined up in 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE) and are looking to free up Riddick on a shallow cross route. Golden Tate is set in motion and fakes a reverse which immediately takes the cornerback lined up across from him out of the play. Jeremy Ross’ job is to simply run straight up the seam and hopefully drag a few defenders with him.
The left outside linebacker really has the only shot at stopping Riddick on this play. But as you can see he bites on the reverse and is never able to recover. This is a perfectly executed play by the Lions that results in an easy touchdown. Unfortunately, the Lions were unable to convert on their two-point conversion attempt afterwards.
On the very next drive, The Lions have just a minute and a half to get into field goal range. Just a few plays into the drive, Theo Riddick makes an incredible grab over the middle of the field for 20 yards around the Falcons’ 40-yard line.
You can’t tell me that Reggie Bush or Joique Bell is going to make that catch.
Riddick has proven that he is a reliable weapon in the passing game, but he’s also shown that he’s not afraid to take on a blitz.
In the play above, the Lions are facing a 3rd-and short situation while the Falcons rush five men at Stafford. Riddick does a solid job of picking up the blitzing linebacker and gives Stafford time to complete a pass to Ryan Broyles for a first down.
With the Lions on a bye week, it’s likely that Reggie Bush and Joique Bell will both be healthy for the Lions’ matchup against the Miami Dolphins next Sunday. I stand by my statement that Riddick is the best running back we have right now and I’d hope for the Lions sake that Riddick’s role doesn’t diminish even with Bush set to return.